During the entire month of April, Nikon is offering their classes for free so I've done a few and then made a kid friendly lesson for Fi so that she can learn a few of the basic fundamentals of photography with her Nikon D3400. We have 3 cats and a dog at our house so of course it made sense for us to learn more about taking photos of pets as well! Fi has always LOVED cats so this seemed like the perfect challenge for her. She's always trying to connect with them and play with their tails and fingers and ears, etc so I think that being able to see her cats through a camera lens will offer a new perspective as she watches their movements and personalities through passive observation.
Speaking of cats, one of her favorite things that we did last summer was to go to Key West and visit the Hemingway house to see the polydactyl cats. Look at all those fingers!
We were headed down to Ft. Lauderdale for a cruise and I'd brought a biography sheet on Ernest Hemigway to entertain Fi on the ride down which resulted in us having to stop at a Barnes and Noble in Jacksonville to grab a copy of The Old Man and The Sea because of course the biography mentioned his Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I read the entire book aloud as we headed down the coast and was surprised Fi was so enamored with the story. Thus, a Hemigway House trip was planned for the day we were in Key West. She fell in love with the cats and made sure to pet every cat that she could while simultaneously making sure that I took a photo of every cat that we saw.
As we strolled back towards the cruise ship we noticed that the Key West Art museum and Historical Society had a special exhibit of Guy Harvey Illustrations of The Old Man and The Sea so Fi excitedly dragged us in to see it. I think it's really fun for her when she can read a biography and see it come to life through books, art, or even visiting a place they once lived.
So now back to our regularly scheduled program of utilizing techniques to get some good quality photos of cats.
1. Comfort- make sure the subject is in a spot that they are fine to sit or lay down in. Bring over a fluffy blanket or rug to entice the pet to stay in one spot.
2. Your best tool is your voice. Call them by their name or make high squeaky noises to get their attention. Infusing affection into your voice can also give good results.
3. Go with the flow. Animals, like kids, are finicky so be prepared to quit something that isn't working and find a new angle or setting.
It was a very stormy day when we were attempting to take pictures of two of our cats which means there was very low natural light which is not what you want as you won't want to use a flash but we worked with what we had. Fi definitely learned the lesson of going with the flow and meeting the animal where they were because they certainly are going to do their own thing. One cat preferred a fuzzy blanket and a toy dangling above the camera, whereas, the other cat preferred a yoga mat to sit on while we called out her name in an affectionate voice and made high pitched sounds.
We tried portrait style and then we also attempted to zero in on certain features like the eyes or paws. Low light plus moving animals distracted by thunder are not a match made in heaven but we got a few shots regardless and Fi is eager to try in optimal conditions now that she understands the basics.
We had a great time and Fi learned something new so it was a perfect project despite the bad weather!